I remember the sinking feeling well. It was about 9:30pm on a normal weekday night. The kids had washed and gone to bed. My wife and I were puttering around the home and getting ready for bed. My wife went to brush here teeth and a tiny dribble of water came out. She alerted me and I checked several other faucets. Same thing.
I knew the water was just working for the kids, as they had showered without a problem. “What is going on?” I thought to myself. We have irrigation connected to our house water, so I grabbed a flash light and went down to the barn and checked the water down there. Dry. Then it dawned on me, the pump is likely out.
I checked the pump house, I could hear the pump spinning. That was strange. Pump action but no water. It was getting late at this point so I decided to end my investigation and call someone in the morning.
I was able to bring in some water 7-gallon water containers that we had in storage. They were a life-saver. They have built in faucets and well-designed handles. I was able to rig one up next to the toilet so that we could still flush. We have a pond, so it was pretty easy to fill them up for toilet water. We used regular bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth, etc. (The biggest inconvenience was dishes; they piled up.)
I called Peak Pump and Motor the next day, and fortunately they came out then. Curt was very careful to make sure that the pump indeed was the culprit. He did not want us spending the money if we didn’t have too. He was totally sincere about that.
We determined there were no burst pipes anywhere. (I walked around the property and went into the crawl space – it was dry everywhere, though I was sure hoping for a leak!). Curt checked our electrical system, especially the contacts related to the pressure valve. It was fine. Then he measured the amps coming off the pump wire. There was the problem. The amps were too low. The pump shaft was just spinning freely; the propeller had come loose from the shaft. If the propeller was actually pulling water, it would have drawn closer to the factory-specified number of amps.
There was now no question. We had to get a new pump. Our 3 horse Emerson pump had finally given up the ghost after about 12 years, which is a little on the young side, however we irrigate several acres off of that pump, and this likely contributed to its early demise. Peak Pump also determined that our 8-gauge copper electrical wire, all 420 feet of it, was too small, it was losing too much voltage. That also contributed to the pump failure. (We ended up replacing the 8-gauge wire with a new fatter 6-gauge wire. This is not typical on a pump replacement, but it really was the right thing do in my case.)
Curt got to work. (His son and partner Zach was out of town, so everything fell on Curt to get things done.)
He backed his rig right up to my pump house, which we were able to lift-up and set-aside. (That greatly increased the ease of access to the well-head which is critical for speed). He then began to pull each of the 20 foot sections of steel pipe with his boom truck. Finally, he got to the last section and the pump itself. Now everything was pulled. He ran back to his shop and got the new pump and the correct wire.
He and Zach consulted with each other over the phone to make triple sure the pump and wire sizes were precisely the right set-up. He then wired up the pump and began to lower it down…adding back in each of the 20 foot sections of pipe, down to over 400 feet. (Most of the pipe was reused, only 2-3 sections were replaced as were some check valves.) Next, he installed a new control box in our pressure tank. (This was an added bonus as our old box made a very loud clicking sound when it engaged.)
Then came the moment of truth. We tested the pump and saw water gushing though the top of the well-head, almost like oil in an old movie. In less than hour we’d have water running through the house.
It was quite a lesson to learn for my family. Running water is critical to the operation of a household. (Especially for the dishes and the laundry!) Even though this exercise was an unexpected expense of several thousand dollars, we were truly elated to have water rushing through our home again.
Peak Pump and Motor did an absolutely thorough job. They were patient in educating me on all the steps, and transparent about all the costs. I highly recommend them if your pump goes out.